After nearly two months after the Nassau County Bridge Authority’s previous deadline of when the E-ZPass toll system was expected to be installed for the Atlantic Beach Bridge, officials said that the system’s launch could be five weeks away.
“I don’t want to put a hard date on it yet, because there’s a lot of software development still to come,” NCBA Executive Director Ray Webb said. “We’re trying to head off of all of those what if’s and those little anomalies before we go live, take care of as much as we can before that.”
The news came at the bridge authority’s Aug. 22 meeting. As of that date, the authority had met with contractors at TRMI, completed the Factory Acceptance Test, verifying the purpose of the E-ZPass installation.
In February, the authority decided to plan for implementation of the E-ZPass system on the bridge with help of TRMI Systems Integration and sponsorship from the Metropolitan Transit Authority to become an affiliated member of E-ZPass.
With the installation of the new system, residents of Atlantic Beach will have the opportunity to pay $162.50 annually for unlimited passes through the toll with their E-ZPass. Currently, this is the only resident group receiving a discounted rate, according to Webb.
If they chose not to register their E-ZPass with the discounted resident offer, they will be billed $3 along with non-barrier island residents. Those commuting across the bridge will also have the option to pay a $4 cash toll, however, no additional payment methods will be available.
Drivers who currently hold annual decals will be able to use their decals until the end of the year, but E-ZPass standards will take over in the new year, deeming resident decals ineffective. Decal sales will halt as of September 29.
In order to get the discounted E-ZPass offer, residents of the barrier island will have to register through the EZ-Pass sight.
The Atlantic Beach Bridge, a toll drawbridge connecting the mainland of Long Island to Atlantic Beach was rebuilt in 1988. This year, the residents and bridge users saw an increase in toll prices for the first time since 2007. On Jan. 1, drivers of passenger vehicles went from paying $2 to cross the bridge to $3, trucks $4 to $8 or $8 to $16 based on size and resident decals went from $130 to $199 and non-resident decals from $175 to $329 for an annual pass.
A group of about 10 community members gathered in the lobby of the NCBA office to observe the meeting and ask questions about the upcoming changes. The meeting was streamed on Zoom for attendees to watch and listen to, while the authority discussed updates.
Some residents expressed concerns regarding not having computer access to register, or needing help to learn the new system.
Atlantic Beach resident Beth Garnett, proposed that the NCBA sends people to resident’s homes to assist them in signing up for the discounted offer.
Samuel Nahmias, chairman of the NCBA board, pitched possible solutions shared by residents such as having someone at the authority administrative office or tolls to help, but said resident sign-up was something that would be considered down the line. The bridge authority plans to share a video on its website on how to register.
Audrey Mordos, a barrier island resident, expressed concerns about property owners on the island who have vehicles registered elsewhere, not being eligible to receive the discounted annual rate. Nahmias said that to break the existing model with the EZ-Pass system, in which car registration indicates eligibility for the discount, would be costly, but could be considered later considering the small amount of residents this might impact.
The authority also addressed community concerns regarding unclear lane markings when entering the toll.
“This is a bridge with an accident waiting to happen,” Eileen Adler, a barrier island resident, said.
Nahmias eased concerns saying that each toll terminal would accept both E-ZPass and cash.
The NCBA’s next meeting is Sept. 20.